Having vegan friends over for dinner at Christmas? No need to panic with this delicious and easy to make whole roasted cauliflower filled with delicious chestnuts. Just follow the steps below to make it!

Whole cauliflower with chestnuts | insimoneskitchen.com

Delicious roasted cauliflower

‘Can you think of a dish to serve for Christmas that would make both my vegan friends as well as my meat loving friends happy?’ Such was the question I received by mail from one of the readers of my newsletter. A vegan main for Christmas. Hmm, I could see why that would be a challenge. Let’s face it: in most cases the main of any Christmas dinner is centered around something meaty or fishy. Most often the main is either turkey, a roasts or salmon. With vegetables as a side.

Whole roasted cauliflower

I had seen a whole roasted cauliflower before and in fact we had tried it ourselves before but not filled. I still had a can of chestnut puree and I figured that would be great with cauliflower. I also wanted to keep it paleo and gluten free so instead of opting for a bread crumb top, I made a top of chopped hazelnuts.

How to make the whole roasted cauliflower

The first thing you need to do is to cook the whole cauliflower. I carefully cleaned the outside, removing the leaves and turning it upside down. Now comes the tricky part. In order for the cauliflower to be filled, you need to make sure the stem of the cauliflower is partially removed. It’s tricky in that you want space to fill but you also want it to stay together.

Filled cauliflower with chestnuts | insimoneskitchen.com

Before or after cooking

You can remove the stem two ways. Either before cooking or after cooking. If you do it before you cook the cauliflower you have to handle the vegetable carefully to avoid it falling apart.

The second way is to cook the cauliflower first – before removing the stem. That way it will be firmer, but the downside is that it will take slightly longer to cook. Having said that, it will also be easier to remove the stem after it is cooked. Just make sure that whichever way you choose you make sure that the cauliflower is cooked properly.

In hindsight I should have opted for the second method because my cauliflower was small (two person dinner) and I needed four hands to keep it all together after it was cooked.

Sticking it together

Now let’s say you picked option number one and some parts of the cauliflower are not where they should be and floating in your cooking pot. Remember that the filling is a bit of “glue” in a way. You can stick the bits and pieces back together to form a whole cauliflower.


Once the cauliflower is cooked you leave it to drain on a piece of clean kitchen towel. Let is cool down to a temperature where you’ll be able to handle it properly. If you haven’t done so already remove the stem but still make sure the cauliflower stays intact. Carefully turn it on it’s head so you’re facing the inside.

Using a piping bag fill every nook and cranny of the cauliflower, sticking loose ends in where needed. Once you’ve filled it as good as possible you turn it back again and directly onto your serving board. Which also needs to be oven proof. A pretty oven dish will work just fine.

You cán place it on a different plate later but in order to be safe it’s best to not move it too much around. Also remember that it will be hot.

Now before placing it into the oven you rub the whole cauliflower with some olive oil. Now place it in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes or until golden and brown. While the cauliflower is roasting you bake some hazelnuts and chop some parsley which you can sprinkle on top of the cauliflower at serving time.

Which mushrooms can I use for the filling?

My preference for the filling is chestnut mushrooms, but you can easily use other mushrooms. If you prefer shiitake or oyster mushrooms you can absolutely use those as well. I do like the consistency of the chestnut mushrooms and they do work very well together with the chestnut puree.

Can I use whole chestnuts?

If you have whole cooked chestnuts you can also use those for the filling. You will probably need a few more to make around 150 gr of puree but if you blend it all together it will be fine to use as well.

What can I serve with the roasted cauliflower?

This will work really well with a side of roasted potatoes and a big green salad to go with the rest.

To sum it all up:

  • First pick a whole cauliflower with fresh leaves. If the leaves surrounding the cauliflower are still firm and are neatly wrapped around the cauliflower it means the cauliflower is fresh. Pick a size that works with the number of guests you have.
  • The maximum number of guests per cauliflower would be 4. But you will need a few side dishes as well.
  • Carefully remove the leaves surrounding the cauliflower and find a pan that will fit the cauliflower. Fill with water and cook the cauliflower for 7-10 minutes.
  • Take out of the pan with a slotted spoon and leave to steam dry on a clean kitchen towel
  • Now turn around and remove most of the stem of the cauliflower to give room for the filling.
  • Make sure you leave enough of the stem intact so it doesn’t fall apart.
  • Make the filling in the meantime and add that to a piping bag.
  • Fill the cauliflower in all the nooks and crannies you can find. Stick the piping bag into all the smaller openings.
  • Turn the cauliflower back with the stem part facing down. Place it on a oven dish and rub the entire head with some olive oil.
  • Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Serve with chopped hazelnuts and fresh herbs
Whole cauliflower with chestnuts | insimoneskitchen.com
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5 from 2 votes

Cauliflower filled with chestnuts

This delicious whole roasted cauliflower is the perfect Christmas vegan main
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 persons


  • 1 cauliflower
  • 5 tbsp olive oil

For the filling

  • 150 gr chestnut puree
  • 150 gr chestnut mushrooms
  • 75 gr walnuts
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • few leaves of sage
  • few twigs of rosemary needles only
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • pepper and salt


  • 3 tbsp hazelnuts chopped
  • few twigs fresh parsley chopped


  • Remove the leaves from the cauliflower. Turn the cauliflower on it’s head and carefully remove the stem but make sure all florets still stick together.
  • Take a large pot of water with salt and bring to the boil (it needs to fit the complete cauliflower) and place the cauliflower in it. Cook for about 7 minutes. Remove the cauliflower from the pot with two slotted spoons and set aside to steam dry.
  • In a large frying pan bake the onion with the garlic and the fresh herbs. Add the mushrooms and bake until done. If there is a lot of moisture coming out the mushrooms let them drain after cooking
  • Place the chestnut puree, the onion chestnut mix and the walnuts in a food processor and turn until smooth. Add salt and pepper and nutmeg to taste.
  • Place in a piping bag and start with filling the cauliflower. First place the cauliflower on it’s head again and fill each nook and cranny. In between the florets, where the stem used to be and anywhere you can fit in some filling. Turn around again and place on a baking tray. If you still see holes, fill it with puree as well.
  • Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Rub the top of the cauliflower with olive oi.. Place in the oven for about 45 minutes or until golden.
  • Before serving add it to a nice bowl and sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts and the parsley
Course: Main
Cuisine: Vegan
Keyword: cauliflower
Diet: Gluten free, Paleo, vegan

Nutrition Information

Calories: 457kcal, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 35g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 12g, Monounsaturated Fat: 18g, Sodium: 48mg, Potassium: 960mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 16IU, Vitamin C: 88mg, Calcium: 82mg, Iron: 2mg


The nutritional values above are calculated per portion. The details are based on standard nutritional tables and do not constitute a professional nutritional advice.

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